As a Master’s student at the University of Sheffield, Alex was coming to the end of a period of leave of absence whilst they were experiencing both mental and physical health conditions, and needed to decide if they were going to return to University or look for paid employment.
Alex identifies as non-binary and has Asperger Syndrome, they also have health conditions including diabetes and an eating disorder.
On joining Good Work, and deciding that employment was the way forward for them, Alex was teamed with Work and Enterprise Coach, Joseph and worked together to navigate the path of finding paid employment for the very first time. As a gay man himself, Joseph and Alex made the perfect team.
“It was really, really good having Joseph there because some of the struggles I faced with my mental health and with being LGBTQIA+, he can relate to, so it was really useful to have that person who has that lived experience.”
At the beginning, Alex was extremely nervous and low in confidence, and when previously faced with a job website they’d struggled to find anything they thought was relevant to their skills or anything that they wanted to do, which caused them to panic and be very anxious. Alex, however, also had lots of experience and skills in volunteering, tutoring and outreach work that they’d gained whilst at University and was keen to explore that avenue further.
Joseph also referred Alex to his colleague Emma, a Health and Wellbeing Coach, who Alex remarked as being “absolutely wonderful help”. Alex was going through a difficult time in their personal life, such as family issues and relationships. Alex said:
“Emma helped me to work through particular problems, not so much telling me what to do, but helping me guide myself.”
Alex also accessed budgeting and benefit advice support through Good Work, which enabled them to find a new flat in Sheffield, which they are very happy living in and is now receiving the correct benefit support.
Once Joseph had a feel for the job roles Alex was suited to, he began to send them regular job opportunity emails and one which caught Alex’s eye was the role of Consumer Service Advisor at an independent advisory organisation. They went ahead and completed the job application and was shortlisted for interview, which was Alex’s very first interview for paid employment.
Understanding that an interview would cause Alex to feel anxious, Joseph quickly arranged for them to take part in a mock interview with one of his colleagues, which Alex very much excelled in. The interview went well and after a nervous two-day wait, Alex received the call and the job offer, which they accepted.
Joseph and Alex then worked together with Alex’s new employer to disclose their health conditions and discussed reasonable adjustments for Alex, all of which were quickly agreed by the employer.
Alex is nervous but excited about starting their first job in paid employment and feels that the support they have received from Good Work has made a big impact on their life, and that paid employment is the right path for them.
“My mental health has absolutely improved, I feel like a lot of the weight has been lifted off my shoulders and my outlook on things has definitely improved. A big part of my Good Work journey is realising in myself that just because I haven’t completed my Masters, it doesn’t make me any less valuable as a person and doesn’t mean I’m a failure. I can still go on to make a big difference to people’s lives.”
Joseph also reflects on Alex’s journey and says that they are a completely different to the person they first met who was lacking in confidence and hope.
“Alex’s biggest achievement, aside from getting a job, is continuing a journey of themselves, taking a hold of their own self-development, owning that, really working on it, being willing to learn and building themselves up. They’ve built themselves from the ground up and have really blossomed.”